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We were shocked and saddened at the passing of Debra Mitchell, FASLA on April 5. Deb had a distinguished 40-year professsional career, the last 26 years of which was spent at SmithGroupJJR where she served as a Senior Vice President and national design leader. Deb contributed so much to the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) in so many ways for a long, long time. She served on the LAF Board of Directors in 1989, 1992, 1997-2007, and 2010-present, with a term as President in 2000–2001.
Her legacy is clear as she had a deep commitment to research in the profession and helped LAF navigate and grow through several key transition periods. Under Deb’s service and leadership, LAF became an organization separate from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), successfully completed the Second Century Campaign that raised over $2 million, and developed the following signature programs, which have been very impactful for the landscape architecture profession and LAF’s mission to preserve, improve, and enhance the environment:
- A Case Study Method for Landscape Architecture
- Land and Community Design Case Study books
- Landscape Futures Initiative
- Olmsted Scholars Program
- Landscape Performance Series
- Case Study Initiative (CSI)
“Deb was an incredible person and talent. I say without a doubt that LAF would not be where we are now if not for Deb and her ideas, dedication and commitment. She will be missed very much,” said LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch, FASLA.
To continue her commitment to advancing the landscape architecture profession through education, research and a sustainable ethos, Deb left a bequest to LAF through the JJR|Roy Fund, which supports LAF’s research initiatives.
“I want the JJR/Roy Fund to continue to be such an asset to LAF. LAF is a forward-thinking, big picture organization, and I have been a proud Board Member for many years. I have had the joy of seeing the impact that LAF is making in the profession and am confident in LAF’s ability to grow and thrive as an organization.”
Those wanting to do something in Deb’s memory can contribute to the JJR/Roy Fund (Include “Debra Mitchell” in the “In Honor/Memory of” field) or contribute to her alma mater the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
More about Deb’s life and legacy can be found at: SmithGroupJJR tribute
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